Like all of you I’m sure, I was saddened to hear about the death of Robin Williams, who committed suicide on Monday (he had battled drug addiction in the past and alcoholism and depression very recently).
As I remarked several months ago at the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, it is always heartbreaking when someone with so much talent gives up on life and spirals into self-destruction. But I would urge us all to grieve with class and compassion, rather than with smug and self-congratulatory condemnation, as Todd Bridges did only minutes after Williams’s death, referring to the suicide as “a very selfish act”:
“You don’t think that my life has been hell and I’ve had so many ups and downs now. If I did that what am i showing my children that when it gets tough that’s the way out No you gotta buckle down ask God to help you. That’s when prayer really comes into effect.”
What I find distasteful here is that Bridges not only capitalizes upon this tragedy by making it all about himself and his own superiority at handling adversity, but he also plays the God-card as a way of seemingly crediting the Almighty for granting him the right to brag about being better than the guy who just hanged himself nine minutes ago. Geez, if you can’t say something nice, then please just leave God out of it.
Williams seemed like a very complicated man with more than his share of demons and a good measure of sadness beneath his zany exterior. Having lost a close friend to suicide myself, episodes like this make me ask whether I am being the friend that those around me need, whether I am willing to take the time necessary to meet someone in the midst of their humanity, as ugly as that can sometimes be. May we all do better at this.
Thoughts and prayers to those who were close to Robin, who now need to grieve and figure out how to pick up the pieces. I’ll leave you with this, it’s one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films.